Just six months after a “widow-maker” heart attack put Kevin Smith in the hospital, the 48-year-old director has lost 51 pounds — but not without venturing into some dangerous crash-diet territory.
“Six months ago from right now, I was in the hospital recovering from a heart attack I’d had the night before,” he captioned a recent Instagram post. “When I went to my doctor a week later, she told me, ‘The best thing you can do for yourself now is to lose 50 pounds.’ Half a year later, I can report that I followed doctor’s orders: I started at 256, and now I weigh 205.”
Side note: If Smith is of average height for an American man — about 5 feet, 8 inches — his body mass index (BMI) would have decreased from 38.92 to 31.17, meaning he’d still technically be considered obese. To drop down into “overweight” category, the director would need to lose another eight pounds.
Back to Smith’s weight loss! He thanked his daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, for helping him switch to a plant-based diet, along with food scientist Ray Cronise. Smith also gave a shout-out to magician Penn Jillette, who authored the book that inspired the director to go on a two-week mono diet just after leaving the hospital.
Mono diets involve eating only one food for an extended period of time and aren’t typically recommended (more on that later). Smith opted for a potato-only meal plan, which allowed him to drop 17 pounds in just two weeks. That may sound like a success, but Caroline Apovian, M.D., director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at the Boston Medical Center, warns that the risks of going all-potato-or-nothing outweigh the rewards.
For those who care (we’re looking at you, keto lovers), potatoes are one of the starchier vegetables, with about 21 grams of carbs per cooked half-cup serving. And although they taste like heaven and contain vital nutrients like vitamin C and fiber, they don’t contain every nutrient your body needs to function.
“When you’re just restricting to one vegetable, after a while you’re going to get vitamin deficiencies,” Dr. Apovian tells LIVESTRONG.COM. One major issue with the potato-only diet is that it doesn’t meet your body’s protein needs.
Protein is made up of different kinds of amino acids, some of which your body produces on its own. Other amino acids need to come from food. Spuds lack several of those amino acids, making them an incomplete source of protein. Why does that matter? Dr. Apovian explains that your body needs protein to build muscle, meaning that eating only spuds for a long period of time would lead to malnourishment and muscle loss.
On top of that, crash diets may reward you with rapid weight loss, but Philadelphia-based weight-loss expert Charlie Seltzer, M.D., says that you’re likely to gain back all that weight as soon as you stop dieting: “For the vast majority of people it’s going to be ineffective, because the habits that got you into trouble in the first place are going to come back once your crash diet is over.”
On the bright side, it sounds like Smith was able to continue losing weight by switching over to a more well-rounded, veggie-rich diet. “These results came from a total lifestyle change of eating solely plant-based foods,” he wrote in his caption, adding, “which is tough because I hate vegetables.”
According to Dr. Apovian, eating a plant-heavy diet can help with weight loss and boost heart-health. That’s because plant-based diets are usually high in fiber, which makes you feel fuller longer, helping to keep overeating at bay.
What not to do when trying to lose weight on a plant-based diet? Load up on processed foods. “You can be a vegan and eat pecan pie all day,” Dr. Apovian says. “That’s not healthy.”
Going forward, Smith hopes to gradually lose another 10 pounds, putting him at his “birth weight” (very funny) of 195 pounds. We can definitely get behind his new, balanced way of eating and hope that his potato-only days are behind him.